Why is Murcian paprika famous?
If there is one element of Murcian gastronomy that has transcended the borders of the autonomous community and has become part of practically the entire Spanish recipe book, it is paprika from Murcia. Since ancient times, spices have been used to enrich food, and in the case of paprika there is no doubt about this. Adding a little Murcia paprika to your recipes gives them an unbeatable touch of flavour and aroma.
This spice with its great colouring power and flavour is grown on the Mediterranean coast and has the Protected Designation of Origin distinction, one of the eight that Murcia's gastronomy has. Its versatility is amazing, as it can be used in dishes as different as octopus, paella, pork shoulder... A way of enriching recipes easily and without detracting from the importance of other ingredients. Murcian paprika is also used as a marinade and seasoning for all kinds of sausages.
But what is the origin of this highly prized paprika? A very simple one, peppers of the bola variety, which is very widespread in Murcia's production, and sun. Murcia paprika has been produced since the arrival of peppers from America. The original peppers, elongated and hot, gave way to the current variety, which, due to the low rainfall and high temperatures in the southeast of our country, lost its spicy flavour and its shape became rounder and rounder until it reached its current form.
As a curiosity, it should be pointed out that the sweet red pepper from Murcia is also known by the name of Ñora or American pepper and was introduced by the Hieronymite monks. The bola variety is responsible for the characteristic sweet and light flavour. The cavity of the red pepper consists of three parts full of seeds, with very fleshy pieces and a green pendulum.
To sum up, the characteristics that a good Murcian paprika should have are as follows:Color rojo brillante.
- Great aroma
- High colouring power
- Great flavour
Main producers of paprika in Murcia
We could say that sweet paprika from Murcia is produced throughout the region of Murcia but, as with the wineries in Jumilla, the reality is that we can determine the specific municipalities in which we can find this spice that is so highly valued in the kitchen
The paprika with the Denomination of Origin Pimentón de Murcia is produced in the lands of:
- Alhama de Murcia.
- Molina de Segura.
- Puerto Lumbreras.
- San Javier.
- Torre Pacheco.
Murcia's pepper plantations total 277,204 hectares.
Recipes with paprika from Murcia
As we have already mentioned, there are many recipes in which you can incorporate paprika from Murcia. Here we offer you some recipes so that you can start trying it:
- Home-style chicken. Cut the chicken into pieces and sauté it in oil with an onion, some bacon, tomato, white wine, salt, parsley and paprika. Then you only have to add a little water, and when the chicken is fully cooked you can enjoy it with your favourite garnish.
- Crespillos. These paprika crackers typical of the Region of Murcia are made with flour, salt, white wine, oil, paprika and, according to some recipes, also lard. All you need to do is prepare a dough with the aforementioned ingredients and then form the crackers, which you will have to bake at 180º until golden brown. You can add the sweet paprika from Murcia to the dough, as they do in Lorca, or add it on the outside while they are still hot, as in Cartagena.
- Stewed potatoes. A very simple recipe, perfect for the cold weather. Cut the potatoes into pieces and put them in a saucepan with onion, garlic, parsley, a little Murcia paprika, a spoonful of oil and salt. Then just cover with water and let the potatoes cook until tender.
Benefits of consuming paprika from Murcia
In addition to enhancing the flavour of stews and sausages, paprika from Murcia offers multiple health benefits. It is an ingredient that provides vitamin A and antioxidants as it is rich in carotenoids, as well as helping to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.
Murcia paprika also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to improve the skin. Peppers contain carotene, an ingredient that serves to stimulate brain function, which prevents premature ageing of cells.